By Gerson Eleonora – Writer for Skempi.com, History Buff and an Aficionado of all things Caribbean
Well, you saw the title so let me just jump right in here: With Fidel Castro’s passing last November Cuba experienced a resurgence in news presence for a minute. Hate him or love him, you can’t deny that Castro put that island nation on the map. I mean, no disrespect to Ernesto Lecuona, Chano Pozo and the other world famous Cuban artists from the first half of the 20th century but, albeit in a polarizing manner, Fidel Castro took Cuba’s brand name on the global stage to a ubiquitous realm.
It was this strange mystique that had always pulled me to our somewhat taciturn Caribbean cousin to the north.
The Dominican Republic has long been on my list of islands in the Caribbean to visit. Instagram and YouTube only made that urge stronger, with gorgeous photos and videos of historical buildings in “La Zona Colonial”, beautiful waterfalls and sandy beaches.
One of the most fun days we had while in the Dominican Republic was definitely the day we went to explore Playa Salinas and the Dunes of Baní or Dunas de Calderas as it is also known.
The navigation system we rented with the car said it would be a 1.5 hours drive from Santo Domingo but taking the traffic into consideration and the fact that we got lost at least twice, regardless of our “trusted” navigation system, it ended up taking us more like 2.5 hours to finally find the dunes.
Today marks almost a week that I am back home, having visited a country I knew very little about initially, before I stepped foot out of the aircraft that landed at Las Americas Airport in Santo Domingo on August 14th. The 10 days I spent driving around the Dominican Republic’s busy and mostly chaotic highways, I got to see a lot of ugly but also some gorgeous parts of what I came to learn is a very diverse island.
I wasn’t quite sure where to start and what to write about first. My experiences were so many and I even learned a thing or two about myself on this particular trip. So I’ve decided to start with one of the most magical days in the DR. The day I finally hiked up to a waterfall.
August Monday: a day full of bikinis, barbecue smoke, unaccepted behavior and copious quantity of booze. In my opinion the name should be officially changed to “Day of the Excesses” but that’s just me.
Anguilla’s carnival takes place every year in the last week of July and first week of August and every first Monday of August the island’s “Jouvert” (which is what I can only describe as a parade of debauchery) ends on the beach of Sandy Ground with one big bash, complete with live music on a large stage and barbecue grills everywhere. People from neighboring St. Maarten long ago claimed August Monday as their preferred party for the summer and half of the island invades Anguilla in boats of all shapes and sizes. From politicians to desk clerks, young and old St. Maarteners will make sure to take this Monday off work to party on Anguilla’s Sandy Ground beach.
Happy Bastille Day! The 14th of July or Le Quatorze Juillet is a pivotal part of the French Revolution and thus French history that has developed into the Fête Nationale Francaise or the French National Day. It is celebrated with military parades, various activities, lots of food and gorgeous fireworks displays in Paris and all over France, and the French territories in the Caribbean are no exception.
This was my first Bastille Day celebration on French St. Martin. I am usually away around this time of year but was quite excited to finally be home to witness the activities and document how this day is celebrated the creole way.